Schistosoma japonicum egg antigens stimulate CD4 CD25 T cells and modulate airway inflammation in a murine model of asthma

Immunology. 2007 Jan;120(1):8-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2567.2006.02472.x. Epub 2006 Oct 17.


A number of epidemiological and clinical studies have suggested an inverse association between allergy and helminth infection, such as Schistosomiasis. Therefore, we hypothesize that Schistosoma japonicum egg antigens, a type of native antigen, can induce production of CD4(+) CD25(+) T cells with regulatory activity, modulating airway inflammation and inhibiting asthma development. The frequency of CD4(+) CD25(+) T cells was determined by flow cytometry for mice treated with ovalbumin (OVA), CD25(+) depletion/OVA, schistosome egg antigens, schistosome egg antigens/OVA and for control mice. The ability of CD25(+) T cells from these mice to suppress T-cell proliferation and cytokine production was investigated both in vivo and in vitro. Results showed that the CD4(+) CD25(+) T cells of OVA-treated mice exhibited impaired control of dysregulated mucosal T helper 2 responses compared to the controls (P < 0.05). Depletion of CD25(+) cells accelerated OVA-induced airway inflammation and increased the expression of interleukin (IL)-5 and IL-4. Treatment with schistosome egg antigens increased the number and suppressive activity of CD4(+) CD25(+) T cells, which made IL-10, but little IL-4. In a murine model of asthma, S. japonicum egg antigens decreased the expression of Th2 cytokines, relieved antigen-induced airway inflammation, and inhibited asthma development. Thus, we provided evidence that S. japonicum egg antigens induced the production of CD4(+) CD25(+) T cells, resulting in constitutive immunosuppressive activity and inhibition of asthma development. These results reveal a novel form of protection against asthma and suggest a mechanistic explanation for the protective effect of helminth infection on the development of allergy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Helminth / immunology*
  • Asthma / immunology
  • Asthma / pathology
  • Asthma / prevention & control*
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / cytology
  • Cell Movement / immunology
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Immunization / methods
  • Interleukin-10 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-2 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit / analysis
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Ovalbumin / immunology
  • Schistosoma japonicum / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • Th2 Cells / immunology


  • Antigens, Helminth
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-2
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit
  • Interleukin-10
  • Ovalbumin